your model

 Before you delve | into more advanced j techniques, you I need to master the basics. Herehow to get started...


One of the great things about portrait photography is that you can shoot abnost anywhere, from your back garden to a glorious tropical beach. But itimportant to know how to get the most out of any location you choose.

There are few hard and fast rules when it comes to working a location. If the location adds to your portrait, you can include the background, but if the location isnparticularly photogenic, try using limited depth of field or tight framing to concentrate attention on your subject.

For the most striking portraits, itoften best to keep things

simple, so try to shoot against uncluttered backgrounds such as the sky, a wall or foliage. This will help your subject stand out. However, like most rules, there are times when itbest to break them —particularly when youshooting environmental portraits where you want to show the surroundings almost as much as the subject itself.


Try to position either your subjectface (on a half or full-length portrait) or eyes (on a head-and-shoulders or close-up shot) using the rule of thirds. This gives a much more balanced composition than if they are in the centre of the frame.

When shooting closer than full length, youneed to think carefully about framing. A good rule of thumb is to avoid cropping the portrait so that any joints such as knees or elbows come too close to the edges of the frame.

Bright summer sunshine might seem like the perfect light for shooting portraits, but these conditions can also produce the least successful results. With the sun high in the sky, ugly shadows wall appear under your subjectnose, chin and eye sockets.

Italso worth remembering that looking into bright sunlight will make your model squint, resulting in unflattering shots. Use these simple tips to get the most from the light...

I Find yourself M some shade

A simple solution is to position your model in a shady area. Donforget to watch the white balance setting though. If the background is still in bright sunlight it can make your modelskin look too blue, because it wall choose a daylight white balance, rather than shade.

Wait for some cloud

If you canfind any shade, and there are some clouds in the sky, you can try waiting for the sun to disappear behind cloud for a natural diffused effect.

Shooting in changing light means that youneed to work quickly to get your shots though, and you also need to watch the exposure. Make sure that you set the exposure for the model, rather than a bright or dark background.

Diffuse the light

If there arenany clouds to diffuse harsh light, you can get a similar effect by holding a diffuser between the subject and the sun. The diffuser can be as simple as a piece of translucent white cloth or one made specifically for the purpose. This works very well for head-and-shoulders portraits, but it can be impossible to find a big enough diffuser to diffuse the light for a half-or full-length shot. Even for head-and-shoulders shots youfind it much easier if you have a willing assistant to hold the diffuser in position.

in changing light means that youneed to work quickly to get your shots”

A Shoot into the light

For a completely different look, try getting your model to face away from the sun, and shoot into the light. Youneed to avoid underexposure, because the bright background will fool your camerameter. Try using +1 or +2 stops of Exposure Compensation.


If you find that there are shadows on your modelface, or itsimply a bit too dark, using a reflector is one of the simplest ways to add some light. These come with white, silver or gold surfaces, which reflect light in different ways for slightly different effects.

A white reflector gives the subtlest results of the three, while silver reflects more direct light back onto the subject. Cold is similar to silver, but produces a warmer effect thatpcrfect for portraits.

Simply position the reflector on the opposite side to the light source to lighten the darker areas of your subject, banishing ugly shadows in order to achieve a more professional finish.

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